The Staircase (2018) ★★★½
Starring: (as themselves) Michael Peterson, David Rudolf, Ron Guerette, Tom Maher, Bill Peterson, Freda Black, Jim Hardin, Arthur Holland, Todd Peterson, Margaret Ratliff, Martha Ratliff, Clayton Peterson, Patricia Peterson, Caitlin Atwater and Lori Campbell
Creator: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
IMDb Rating | 8.1
Humpo Show Rating | 7.5
In December 2001, novelist Michael Peterson called to report that his wife Kathleen had fallen down the stairs in their home and died. Peterson’s story that Kathleen had fallen was dismissed by the authorities and concluded instead that he had bludgeoned her to death. The film details the ensuing case from the point of view of Peterson and his defense team, led by David Rudolf.
Originally shown in 2004 by French broadcaster Canal+, with a further two episodes later released in 2013, and finally, three more episodes were picked up by Netflix, who subsequently turned the 13 episodes into a miniseries. The true-crime documentary series is in a very similar vein to the hugely popular Making a Murderer, and just as addictive.
The original eight episodes are by far the most interesting. They provide a unique perspective of a man facing a murder charge, the defence his lawyer and team are making, and the effects that the case is having on the lives of Michael, David, and Michael’s children, adoptive and biological. It is a fascinating insight, and it really shows that real life can be stranger than fiction. When people say, “to be a fly on the wall”, we rarely get the opportunity to witness ‘behind-the-scenes’ happenings that occur when the TV cameras usually finish for the day – not with the Peterson family. We get to see all the conversations they have at the family home, the intimate family moments, and the effects that the case is having on every family member.
It really is a riveting case and I changed my mind numerous of times throughout – I won’t go into the details of the case too much as the element of surprise is a big factor in this type of program. De Lestrade ends each episode with a suspenseful taster of what is to come next, thus leading to a binge-watch.
The Staircase, does become a bit tired towards the end with the latest episodes, but don’t let that detract from a stimulating true-crime documentary series that is full of “did he?” questions, moments that leave the viewer shocked, and some that have you wondering and debating long after the episode has finished. A must-watch for fans of Making a Murderer.
The Humpo Show | Richard